Vienna, 18 September 2006 Press release

Foreign Minister Plassnik at UN General Assembly in New York


Vienna, 18 September 2006 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik is on her way to the United Nations in New York where she will participate in this year’s general debate of the UN General Assembly and make a statement on Austria’s behalf on Thursday, 21 September.

The Foreign Minister, who is accompanied by State Secretary Hans Winkler, will also take this opportunity to seek support for Austria’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council. The elections to the Security Council will be held during the UN General Assembly in autumn 2008.

Priority themes will be the Middle East and the Balkans. In this connection the Foreign Minister will hold a number of bilateral talks, among others with her counterparts from Iran and Syria. A meeting between the EU Foreign Ministers and the Palestinian President Abbas is also scheduled. "The issue now is to relaunch the peace process in the Middle East. In this phase in particular it is useful to activate the Middle East Quartet as an international coordination tool. However, this does not release the partners in the region from making their own contribution. We call upon all sides to fulfil their role in the Middle East in a responsible manner - this applies to both Syria and Iran," said Plassnik.

"The internal Palestinian dialogue has reached a turning point. Precisely at this difficult stage it is decisive that we hear first hand from Mahmoud Abbas how he sees the further development in the Palestinian territories. It is also important to me that we clearly show our explicit support for President Abbas, whose democratic legitimisation and readiness to enter into talks with Israel are undisputable," said Foreign Minister Plassnik, referring to her initiative for a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers with the Palestinian President. In this connection Plassnik also welcomed the forthcoming meeting between Abbas and the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in New York as a "positive signal that things are moving in the region."

Another focus of the coming week will be the Balkans. The EU Foreign Ministers will meet with the Special Envoy for the Status Negotiations on Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, who will submit his report on the progress of the status negotiations and their next stage to the Security Council and the Balkans Contact Group in New York this week. "The status negotiations are now entering their intensive stage. The goal of achieving a negotiated solution by the end of the year still stands. Belgrade and Pristina have to show realism and responsibility," continued Plassnik.

Foreign Minister Plassnik will hold talks with the President of the UN General Assembly, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, who is the third woman in the history of the UN to chair a General Assembly. At the invitation of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Plassnik will also participate in the "Women’s Empowerment" Meeting, which is devoted to concrete steps to enhance women’s opportunities for active participation in the political and economic life of their country.

While in New York Foreign Minister Plassnik will hold several bilateral talks, for instance with her counterparts from Ghana, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea, as well as with Qatar’s Crown Prince. Together with the other EU Foreign Ministers she will meet her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She will also meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and members of the Human Security Network. In addition, the Foreign Minister will seize the opportunity to meet Austrians living in New York.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213